Inside Spanish Football’s Barcelona correspondent Alexandra Jonson details how Leo Messi’s goal-scoring record is not merely a historic moment for La Liga, but a turning point that could have a far-reaching effect in the Catalan club’s success this season.
We’ve all gotten used to Lionel Messi breaking records however, among all the piles of records he’s broken, the one he broke on Saturday against Sevilla stands out as more significant than the rest.
It stands out because of it’s difficulty, because it took someone 60 years to break it and because few thought it would ever be broken. It also stands out because football has developed and such a record should in 2014 simply be impossible to break. Then it stands out because the guy breaking it is only 27 years old, did it in only 289 games and has quite few years left in his career.
If you somehow managed to miss it on Saturday, Lionel Messi became the all-time top scorer of the spanish league with 253 goals breaking Telmo Zarras record from 1955.
Another thing that makes this record stand out in a way from other records he’s broken before is the timing and the importance it has had and probably will have on his club FC Barcelona.
Messi could have broken the record several weeks ago when Barcelona played away against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Had he done that, while Barça lost, the incredible feat of breaking this record would probably not have gotten the attention it deserved. As it would be an afterthought in the wake of Barça’s loss to their arch-rival.
He could’ve also broken it at home against Celta or away against Almería. But he waited for the right opponent and time.
Sevilla came to Camp Nou in great form, hoping to get the three points and pass Barcelona in the league table. Barcelona on the other hand had lost their last home game against Celta and barely gotten away with victory away against Almería. Messi hadn’t scored a league goal since the game vs Eibar on the 18th of october.
To an objective eye it looked like this could be the first time since 2002 that Sevilla would beat Barcelona at the catalans home.
Leading up to Lionel Messi’s opening goal in the 21st minute, the Argentinian hadn’t done much and the game could still have gone either way. But then a brilliant freekick for Leo put him level with Zarra.
It caused a celebration at the Camp Nou with the speaker announcing that the greatest scorer in the history of the Spanish league was running around on the pitch.
Celebration is something there hasn’t been much of at Camp Nou lately. Last season marked the first in six years that a title hasn’t been celebrated. While there have been more question marks than answers this season and the fact that Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are repeatedly producing incredible performances isn’t helping.
In adddition to all of that, the board of the club is being questioned more and more by the supporters while ex-Barça president Joan Laporta has decided to run for president again in 2016. Something he is preparing for while critizing nearly every move the current board is taking.
Most things surrounding the Catalan club at the moment are also blown out of proportion. When Messi gave an interview last week he said he would like to retire at Barcelona, but you never know what happens. Then suddenly, according to media, the Argentinean was unhappy at the club and wanted to leave.
When Lionel Messi broke that seemingly unbreakable record on Saturday, the Camp Nou celebrated, when the second goal arrived putting him alone on the throne, his teammates got so happy they spontaneously lifted him up and threw him in the air.
On Saturday, you could sense the feeling at Camp Nou that this was something both the fans and the players had missed; celebrating something big.
After Messi’s first goal of the night put him level with Zarra, the game changed, Barcelona changed. It was like the recored brought joy to the team, joy that they have been missing as of late. With that joy, they suddenly started to play more and more like the Barcelona we used to know.
Sevilla got a goal early on in the second half but Barça reacted fast and from there on the visitors had no chance. “We were special guests invited to Messi’s party” Sevilla coach Emery expressed post game.
With his record, Messi awoke and unintentionally woke his teammates up, if only for this night. Time will tell if it’s for a few weeks or for the rest of the season. But it was another Barcelona, it was the Barcelona we were used to seeing.
The magnitude of the record gave Barcelona a chance to, for the first time in quite a long while, celebrate something and you could see on the faces of fans and the players that it was needed. Now when they remember how great it is to be able to celebrate, that hunger that is said to be missed in Barcelona, might as well be on the way back.
This content was originally published here.